West News Wire: Madrid has adopted legislation that will grant workers the right to paid menstruation leave and increase their access to abortion and transgender rights for youngsters.

Irene Montero, the minister of equality for Spain’s left-leaning coalition government, of the “United We Can” Party, was the main force behind the two bills.

According to the modifications made to sexual and reproductive rights on Thursday, 16- and 17-year-olds in Spain can now have an abortion without their parents’ permission.

The morning-after pill and hormonal contraceptives will soon be freely available in state-run health centers, along with period products, in schools and jails.

The menstrual leave policy enables employees to take paid time off while experiencing incapacitating period pain.

In addition, the changes enshrined in law the right to have an abortion in a state hospital.

Currently, more than 80 percent of termination procedures in Spain are carried out in private clinics due to a high number of doctors in the public system who refuse to perform them with many citing religious reasons.

Under the new system, state hospital doctors will not be forced to carry out abortions, provided they have already registered their objections in writing.

The abortion law builds on legislation passed in 2010 that represented a major shift for a traditionally Catholic country, transforming Spain into one of the most progressive countries in Europe on reproductive rights. Spain’s constitutional court last week rejected a challenge by the right-wing Popular Party against allowing abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

A separate package of reforms also approved by lawmakers on Thursday strengthened transgender rights, including allowing any citizen more than 16 years old to change their legally registered gender without medical supervision.

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Children between 12 and 13 years old will need a judge’s authorization to change, while those between 14 and 16 must be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians.

Previously, transgender people needed a diagnosis by several doctors of gender dysphoria. The second law also bans so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ people and provides state support for lesbians and single women seeking IVF treatment.

The centre-left coalition government is currently under fire for another of Montero’s star projects, a new sexual consent law that was intended to increase protection against rape but has inadvertently allowed hundreds of sex offenders to have prison sentences.

The “Only Yes Means Yes” Law makes verbal consent the key component in cases of alleged sexual assault. The government is now struggling to come up with an amended version and end the controversy ahead of elections later this year.

The three initiatives have met strong opposition from the right-wing parties that form Spain’s main opposition bloc.


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